The Philosophical Theology of Jonathan Edwards: Expanded Edition

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This book demonstrates the originality and coherence of Jonathan Edwards' philosophical theology using his dynamic reconception of reality as the interpretive key. The author argues that what underlies Edwards' writings is a radical shift from the traditional Western metaphysics of substance and form to a new conception of the world as a network of dispositions: active and abiding principles that possess reality apart from their manifestations in actions and events. Edwards' dispositional ontology enables him to restate the Augustinian-Calvinist tradition in theology in a strikingly modern philosophical framework. A prime example of Edwards' innovative reconstruction in philosophical theology is his conception of God as both eternal actuality and a disposition to repeat that actuality within God and also through creation. This view is a compelling alternative to the traditional Western doctrine of God as changeless actuality, on the one hand, and the recent process theologians' excessive stress on God's involvement in change, on the other. Edwards' achievement was that he saw dynamic movement as essential to God's own life without compromising the traditional Christian tenets of God's prior actuality and transcendence. The author of this volume also explicates the way in which Edwards' dynamic reconception of reality informs his theories of imagination, aesthetic perception, the knowledge of God, and the meaning of history. This expanded edition includes a new preface and a new appendix titled Jonathan Edwards on Nature.